Kitchen Soffit

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Otherwise known as bulkheads, homeowners often find it challenging to deal with soffits, especially if they protrude excessively. Homeowners who pay attention to the kitchen’s design may find this space above the cabinets to be an eyesore. If you are in this camp, read on to understand how you can remodel this space.

What is a Soffit in a Kitchen?

Kitchen soffits are generally an extended, bulky, and box-shaped space in your home built to hide mechanical components, pipes, and wiring between the top cabinets and the ceiling. They are common in kitchens, even though they may be found in any other room in your house. Old houses have soffits that extend several inches past the kitchen cabinets, creating a large and aesthetically unappealing visual bump.

A kitchen with white cabinets


Typically, a soffit cannot always be removed but can be disguised or covered in several ways that blend with the overall interior look of your kitchenette. The guide below is beneficial if you find the bulky kitchen soffit disturbing.

What Can I Do with Soffits Over Kitchen Cabinets?

If you can’t remove the soffit, don’t fret, as there are several creative ways to disguise soffits.

Common options include;

Make it Thicker

Though it has a beautiful natural outcome, making the soffit thicker is probably the last thing on most homeowners’ minds. However, this can be a good idea to disguise it. A thickened soffit appears as a border and naturally blends with your upper cabinet shelf and other wall attachments. This also makes soffits appear as an extension of the walls, adding a more dynamic design to the room.

A kitchen with white cabinets


Add Crown Molding

Crown molding improves the aesthetic appearance of any room. Therefore, it makes sense to add crown molding to the kitchen soffit for some additional touch of sophistication and elegance. Properly done molding can add dimension and creates some decoration to the gap that never goes out of style.

A well-designed kitchen space


Convert it into a Pillar or Beam

Another way of dealing with your kitchen soffit is to remodel it into a beam or pillar. Adding an extension that converts the soffit into a wooden pillar or beam adds some architectural integrity to your caboose. Unlike other options, you can easily extend this option with very little construction. You can also add more beams that match and blend with the soffits’ thickness and length.

Add New Shelves

While you cannot remove the soffits, you can remove the cabinets if there is a need to do so. In some situations, replacing your outdated cabinets with new designs that help cover soffits might be the best option. As mentioned, traditionally constructed kitchen soffits may stick way beyond the upper cabinets. Therefore, consider installing cabinetry that matches or extends past the length of the soffit. You can do this yourself or hire a contractor to find the best style and placement for the new cabinets.

Cover with Artwork

Adding artwork is another way of dealing with unsightly kitchen soffits without making your kitchenette too cluttered, especially for any nature lover. Fix some framed pictures either in a horizontal or vertical position such that the extended part pops out with your favorite image. Don’t be shocked if your family members and guests find this as their favorite part. Besides, it is also a great way of adding some personal style and flavor to the space.

Use Different Paints

Painting is another creative way for remodeling your kitchen soffit. You can paint ceilings with a different color from that of your cabinets to help the kitchen soffits blend with the cabinet. The same applies if you paint the soffit and cabinets with the same color and add a splash of color to any other part of the galley.

In most cases, your family members and guests might assume that the soffit is actually part of the cabinetry.

Fitted appliances in a kitchen


Use Tiles or Wallpapers

Tiles or wallpapers can also make your kitchen soffit appear contemporary in many ways. No matter how old wallpapers are, they don’t go out of style as they are available in various colors and designs. You can choose any color to decorate the soffit. For instance, nude, light, dark, or white color can match your existing decor and kitchen design.

A modern wooden kitchen

On the other hand, ceramic tiles also make a good option. Bright or bold tiles give your galley an instant uplifting vibe; stone tiles add some elegance, while tin wood tiles are best if you want to achieve a more modern look. They also greatly blend with all ceilings.

Embrace the Soffit

If none of the options mentioned above are appealing and remodeling isn’t your cup of tea, how about embracing this awkward gap in your cabinetry? Use the empty space for storage, to place art, plants, or any other better option. This option is best for the smaller soffit.

A white wooden cabinets


Can I Remove the Soffits in my Kitchen?

Most interior designers recommend kitchen soffit removal to create more space for kitchen cabinets or extend new cabinets into the ceiling. Consider the following before committing to soffit removal;

1.      What is Behind the Soffit?

As mentioned, the kitchen soffits cover or hide kitchen wiring, pipes, plumbing, ductwork, and other components. Therefore, the only way to identify what’s behind the structure is by looking at the original plan of the building or drilling strategic areas to inspect its contents. If you determine that the soffit is hiding vents, ducts, plumbing, and other mechanicals, removing it becomes complicated. Nonetheless, always consult a reputable contractor to explore all available options, including the design and costs involved.

2.      Effect on the Cabinets

In most cases, kitchen soffits are removed to allow the extension of new kitchen cabinets into the ceiling. However, the soffit may be removed for other reasons, leaving the existing cabinets in their original position. Unfortunately, depending on how the cabinets were built, they may be attached to the soffits’ underside; the soffit may rest on them or be bolted to them. In all situations, removing it causes structural damage to the kitchen cabinet underneath and may necessitate immediate replacement. Therefore, even if the soffits can be removed without affecting wiring, plumbing, ducts, and pipes, upper cabinets touching the soffit should be removed temporarily and new cabinets installed.

3.      Disguising the soffit

If kitchen soffit removal is not within your plan or budget, you should consider several options that make the kitchen soffits less noticeable. Other than removal, you can creatively disguise it using a cabinet, window, or add crown molding.

4.      Effects on Walls and Ceiling

If you are determined to remove the kitchen soffit to extend cabinets, understand that this will affect the surrounding upper corner, wall, and ceiling. If removed, the wall behind the ceiling and the ceiling above should be repaired or redesigned after that. However, patching the wall or ceiling and matching the ceiling texture can be challenging and may require that the entire ceiling is painted to disguise the patch completely.

With that said, kitchen soffits are an important integral and functional installation in any galley. Therefore, discussing your removal ideas with home remodeling professionals before taking any step is the only way to be sure of quality work.

What is the Difference Between a Bulkhead and a Soffit?

Most homeowners, including interior design professionals, often confuse between bulkheads and soffits. While they can be used interchangeably, soffit is the area between kitchen cabinets and ceiling. On the other hand, bulkheads are the structural drywall installations that fill this area and provide storage space. However, since they refer to the same place in your galley, most people generally call it a soffit.

Bottom Line

Kitchen soffits have fallen out of favor as interior designers continue to adopt modern trends and kitchen designs to extend cabinet boxes into the ceiling for more storage and make the kitchenette space appear taller. As a result, most homeowners consider removing or disguising this structural installation that causes too much flange in their large kitchen. The guide above is beneficial if you fall into either of these camps. Also, be wary of the surprises and problems that arise with the remodeling exercise .

Ben James

Ben James

Ben is an experienced content writer with a passion for kitchen remodeling. He loves writing about latest kitchen designs & trends so that he can educate our readers make the best decisions possible when it comes to kitchens.

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